“... And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” — Isaiah 2:4
Michael Martin seeks to transform guns to garden tools. Donate a shotgun, and he’ll turn it to a spade, which the former gun owner can use to plant carrots.
Yes, you heard him right.
“We’re talking about something that can kill and turning it into something that can create life,” he says as he savors a smoothie at a Colorado Springs coffee shop.
Martin, a 2001 Lewis-Palmer High graduate, is preparing to take his crusade nationwide. He’s co-written “Beating Guns,” a thoughtful, nonshouting call to a more sensible America and is embarking on a six-week tour to promote his book and RAWtools, which turns guns to garden tools. The tour begins Sunday at 6 p.m. with a documentary screening at Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave.
In his book, and in his life, he makes a strong call to disarm to his Christian brethren. Martin, who attends Beth-El Mennonite Church, is a devoted follower of Christ with a degree in biblical studies. This Christian wonders about the 41 percent (according to Pew Research) of American Evangelicals who own guns.
Spreading the good news of Christ, he says, will be a “lot more fruitful” if Christians do not carry “violence in our back pocket.”
Notice the use of “our.” When Martin, who does not own a gun, confronts American Christians about gun ownership and attitudes, he confronts them as sisters and brothers. He’s one of them.
He’s fascinated by The Sermon on the Mount, that troubling, uplifting, enlightening, confounding collection of sayings and teachings from Jesus. You can study The Sermon of all sermons every day of your life and fail to capture all the wonder, but the prime message is easy to grasp:
Look beyond your needs and consider the needs of others.
“From a Christian perspective,” Martin says. “The Second Amendment should take a back seat to The Sermon on the Mount. As Christians, we should be viewing guns through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount and not the Second Amendment.”
The Second Amendment, of course, talks of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”
Martin speaks in a hushed voice. He’s not a firebrand, although he uses a blazing forge to transform guns. He’s a realist who knows guns are a forever fact of American life. He realizes his crusade will be ignored and attacked.
Still, he wants to make a dent by someday changing the purpose of tens of thousands of guns. He wants to “spark your moral imagination.” He wants the people of God to follow Christ’s radical call to peace by getting rid of guns.
To date, more than 400 guns have been donated to Martin and RAWtools, resulting in 600 garden tools. Yesterday, the donated AK-47s and rifles and handguns were weapons. Today, those weapons help plant beets. Martin smiles every time he thinks about that massive change.
He wants every American town and city to feature a dropbox where residents can donate guns that will be turned into dandelion diggers.
“With every gun we transform,” Martin writes, “... it feels as if the world becomes a little safer, as if the heaviness of death lingering over us like a cloud lifts a little.”
He wrote his book at various coffee shops and at the 21C, East and downtown Penrose libraries. Maybe you saw him, a bearded man peering earnestly at his PC while typing radical words.
“Imagine if every Christian in America took ... commitment to Jesus as seriously as gun owners take their commitment to the Second Amendment,” Martin writes. “We wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.
“Can we really carry a cross and a gun?”
He awaits your answer.